Last week, high school students in Taipei, Taiwan raised a rainbow banner ahead of their June 3 graduation ceremony, only to have the Student League to Defend the Family (捍衛家庭學生聯盟), a youth-led conservative religious group, urge the school to have the banner taken down. The school caved and removed the rainbow banner, reportedly after talking with students on Monday.
While this might sound like a small battle over a single flag, it’s actually indicative of a larger anti-LGBTQ movement brewing in Taiwan as the country’s legislature figures out how to comply with a recent Constitutional Court ruling demanding the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage within two years.
The Student League to Defend the Family is composed of young people and students, but it has connections to the Taiwan Family Association, a larger coalition of conservative and religious groups who largely oppose government and academic attempts to introduce same-sex marriage, comprehensive/inclusive sex education and gender equality policies that provide equal legal rights regardless of gender.
The Taiwan Family Association hopes to infiltrate school boards and governmental committees in order to sway any decisions related to the issues mentioned above. They’re also joining up with two anti-LGBTQ groups — The Next Generation Happiness Alliance (下一代幸福 聯盟) and The Family Guardian Coalition (護家盟) — and actively soliciting support from churches, parents groups and nursing home unions to create a unified front against LGBTQ issues.
Parents groups and nursing home unions may sound like odd allies for fighting LGBTQ rights, but not if you consider the roots of Asian homophobia. Traditional Asian conservatism dictates that children marry someone of a different sex and have kids. The kids are expected to continue the family bloodline and help care for their parents in old age. As such, conservatives see LGBTQ people as a threat to family bloodlines and parental care.
(Featured image by XX Daniel L Studio)